Sweet, eclectic and colorful: 8 drinks that defined the 90s


If popular media can teach us anything, it’s that the minds of people who came of age in the 90s are like steel traps. In other words: if you can tinker with memories in the mist of a Zima– induced hangover, you can remember everything.

Perhaps that is why drinks from this era are so engrained in the memory of the general public. Consider fruity vodka-based cocktails like Appletini, Sex on The Beach, Skyy Vodka Martini and gin and juice. Often neon-colored and brash-tasting, these drinks weren’t subtle in any sense of the word. Less boozy but equally iconic were coolers such as Arbor Mist, Boone’s Farm or, dare we say, Mad Dog 20/20, which won fans their low alcohol content and candy flavors. Due to their popularity, brands of spirits such as Seagram’s and Bartles & Jaymes joined the “cooler-craze” and created variety packs with tropical flavors reminiscent of the Caribbean.

As we nostalgically revisit that booze-splattered era, we wonder, “What’s the quintessential drink of the 90s?” For the answer, we turned to beverage industry professionals for what they believe to be the drink of the decade – or at least what they remember.

Anyone who turned on a television in the 1990s knows that the rise in popularity of The Cosmopolitan has been largely attributed to the success of the pink ladies sipping drinks from the hit show. sex and the city. In retrospect, Carrie’s character may have been more flawed than we realized at the time, but her drink of choice remains downright iconic. However, she isn’t the only one responsible for the Cosmo’s legendary status.

“Dale Degroff, aka the ‘King of The Cocktail’ and author of the book The craft of the cocktail, perfected this cocktail while working in New York and helped make this drink more popular than ever,” says Shannon Michelle, Beverage Director for Josephine in Jacksonville, Florida. “It’s tart and bright, so it won’t spoil your palate whatever your plans are next, and it packs enough punch to remind you that you’re still drinking a stiff cocktail. Plus, a pink drink looks sexy in your hand no matter who you are. It’s a crowd pleaser with stamina.

a white Russian

A precursor to the modern Mudslide, the White Russian is perhaps best known as The Dude’s drink of choice in the ’90s cult classic. The great Lebowski. In this movie, actor Jeff Bridges’ character soaks up the cocktail in almost every scene.

Why did The Dude love White Russians so much? The drink’s appeal is immediately obvious: it’s boozy, creamy, sweet and unerringly drinkable. Plus, it’s hard to be a nihilist with one in hand.

Glass of Merlot

A nice glass of red wine in a fine stemmed glass was arguably the height of sophistication in the ’90s. Think: Nicole Kidman’s chic Dr. Chase Meridian from the 1995s batman forever order a glass of Merlot with dinner.

“Savagely (and a little sadly), the 2004 cult film Next to does an amazing job castigating the Merlot (we all remember the scene!) that he went from hero to zero overnight,” says Vanessa Price, author of Big Mac and Burgundy. “Decades later, he still hasn’t regained his reputation!”

Red Bull Vodka

Before imposing itself on American drinkers in the early 2000s, Vodka Red Bull was already a hit across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom “It’s the drink that gives wings… and insomnia after a big night out in a club”, notes Danny Bouvery, founder of BouveryCV, quoting the popular energy drink advertising campaign. What better drink to smoothly transition from a night out on the town to pretending to be a somewhat functional human wearing a beeper (who hopefully has a friend who works in cardiology)?

Olde English 40oz

Track 40 oz at liberty on the eponymous album of the group par excellence of the 90s Gorgeous takes its name from the “choice malt liquor covered in a paper bag,” says Chris Blasman, owner of Four Brothers Wine Co., located in Los Olivos, CA. Old English 800, aka “OE”, wasn’t trying to be anything other than what it was: a big $3 bottle of beer here to have a good time.

“It was easy to slip one on my leg. JNCO jeans and go for a house party,” Blasman says.

Absolut Vodka Tonics with a twist of lemon and lime

Remember those Absolut Vodka commercials from the 90s? These colorful liquor ads really resonated with young adults, so much so that many cut them out of magazines and taped them to the walls. For example, the character Meadow Soprano from HBO cult classic series The Sopranos, which had an entire wall dedicated to a collage of cut Absolut advertisements. It’s no wonder, then, that it has quickly become the popular alcohol of choice for mixing vodka tonics.

“Absolut vodka tonics with a twist of lemon and lime,” recalls Sonja Magdevski, owner of Casa Dumetz wines. “These go down too easily.”

GH Mumm Gordon Red

And what about sparkling? At that time, champagne was a mainstay at major events and celebrations, more so than prosecco and cava, which had yet to reach mainstream American audiences. Will Blackmon, former NFL player for the New York Giants, clearly remembers the bubble stunt that followed Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Utah Jazz in the NBA finals in 1998. “They opened a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge in the locker room to celebrate their ‘Last Dance,‘” he recalled.

Espresso Martini

“Every time I walked into a bar or a restaurant, and was greeted by the sounds of 90s hip hop or sound garden, pearl jam, Pixies, Jane’s Addiction, PJ Harvey, Bjork, Oasis Where Alanis MorrisetteI know that the owner-operators are from my generation,” says Eric Alperin, owner of Alperin Enterprise cocktail bar.

“So when it comes to classic ’90s cocktails, I think ‘anxiety cocktails'” – that is, caffeinated drinks with a jolt – “like the Espresso Martini, come back with a jolt. of thunder.”

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